ITD News
Associated Press
News Link

Merit increases to appear on Feb. 13 checks

Most full-time ITD employees will find their paychecks a little heavier – or their direct deposit account a little healthier – on Feb. 13, thanks to a new merit increase program that went into effect this week.

Breaking from recent practices, the transportation board voted in December to allocate approximately $2 million in salary savings from 2003 into merit increases, recognizing that ITD employees have labored more than two years without a raise.

The merit increases, ranging from 1 to 4 percent, went into effect this pay period, which began Sunday. Sue Simmons, Administrative Services, told the transportation board Wednesday that 1,804 employees received increases ranging from 1 to 4 percent, based on performance reviews. The minimum any employee received, she said, was 25 cents per hour.

In all, 1,759 permanent full-time employees and 45 temporary or part-time employees received the increases. Part-time employees who have worked for ITD at least two years were included in the merit increase package.

Simmons and the board complimented ITD’s Human Resources office for working so quickly to facilitate the merit increase – a phenomenal effort considering the number of employees covered and the short time to accomplish it.

Agencies across Idaho state government are reporting the exodus of employees because of a 2 1/2-year drought in pay increases, Simmons added. Gov. Dirk Kempthorne included in his budget proposal to the Legislature a 2 percent increase for salaries of state employees. If increases are approved, they would be distributed in July to ITD employees based on a formula similar to the merit increases.

The transportation board approved the merit increases last month because of increased productivity at a time of diminishing resources. ITD employees implemented more than 60 efficiency measures that produced $4.2 million in one-time savings and $1.6 million in ongoing savings to the state the past few years. Yet, the last pay increase came on July 1, 2001.

Higher medical costs have eroded salaries by 6 percent over the last six years, according to a report to the board.

The board also authorized the merit increases because of the difficulty ITD is experiencing in recruiting and retaining high-quality employees. Prevailing salaries in the private sector are significantly higher than state wages and have enticed ITD employees away from public service.

ITD has lost 191 of its 458 maintenance employees the last five years, a decline of 42 percent.

The merit increase should help alleviate some of that exodus and enable ITD to retain more of its best employees.